The Plant Based Revolution is number two of the Top 10 Trends highlighted by Innova Market Insights for 2020 and the dairy alternatives category represents a key battlefront in this consumer-driven revolt. The market researcher has unveiled a new report on the global dairy alternatives market that highlights the complexities of the consumer picture.
The report comes during a time where the market for plant-based options is changing in scale – dramatically. Boosted by a sustainable and natural positioning that reflects consumer demands, the market now provides options for consumers who are seeking planet-friendly choices. At the same time, this category is mindful of promoting its health benefits. Now that plant milk is more mainstream, there is a huge push toward bringing even more dairy-alternative products to market.
Plant-based innovation in food and beverage continues to flourish as a result of consumer interest in health, sustainability and ethics, which ties into the broader consumer lifestyle trend toward cleaner living. As the use of the term “plant-based” moves more into the mainstream, the industry and start-up companies, in particular, are taking up the challenge to deliver more clean label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles.
Innova Market Insights has revealed an almost 50 percent average annual growth in vegan desserts and ice creams launched over the past five years alone.
The market researcher notes that there is no single factor driving the rise in purchase rates. Lactose avoidance is still a more important issue than veganism, although the vegan juggernaut is certainly not slowing down and will inevitably play a growing role in future demand. But it is the flexitarian movement – led by Western markets – that appears to be having most impact on current growth. In nine countries surveyed, an average of 32 percent of consumers said they bought dairy alternatives simply “because they’re healthier” and 27 percent “because they bring variety to my diet,” helping to incorporate more plant ingredients.
“There is a real variety in the products emerging in the European and North American markets,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Insights and Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “And within the past year or two, we have even seen mainstream brands joining the fray, something that many consumers will see as an endorsement of their own emerging interest,” she notes.
Purchasing of dairy alternatives is still most frequent in Asia and Latin America, which are home to the greatest incidence of lactose intolerance, with diversification and segmentation of the category focused on more developed regions. There is an above-average focus on dairy-free yogurts in Europe, for example, while ice cream represented almost a third of all dairy alternative launches in North America in 2018.
Big players are tapping into these current market trends. Last month, US Greek yogurt brand Chobani revealed the company’s “biggest expansion ever” with an entire platform of batch-made oat-based drinks and cultured oat blends. The move marked Chobani’s first foray outside of the yogurt aisle with Chobani Oat Drink and dairy-based creamers.
Meanwhile, Novozymes developed a toolbox to guide producers expanding their businesses into oat drinks as the market for oat-based beverage continues to grow. Hailed by the company as “the first of its kind,” the toolbox provides insights into how to use and combine enzymes, raw material and production parameters to adjust sweetness, mouthfeel and nutritional profile in oat beverages.
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